Obama vs. Achiezer


obama-bender-achiezerBy S. Friedman

There are many things one can attribute Barack Obama’s winning a second term as president to.  One of the things that cannot be considered a factor is the voting of Orthodox Jews.  Quite simply, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California, the states with the largest concentration of Orthodox Jews, were firmly in Democratic hands with or without their influence.  The importance of voting as a community, regardless of the outcome, is not something that should be mitigated, as even in “losing” efforts the patterns of voting blocs are duly noted.

For the individual voter, he or she can consciously separate from a group and make his or her own calculation for voting.  It is that calculating that I think needs severe review in regards to how those principles reflect on the individual, not on how they decide elections.

Reading comments on frum websites reporting news on the election, I noticed that there were a significant minority of commentators who identified themselves as “yeshivish” and voting for Obama on the basis for continuing benefit programs that they enjoy, and that Obama’s administration was the greatest personification of tzedakah the world has ever seen.  That sentiment upset me greatly.

Before I get to my own hashkafic views of the above opinion, let me give some practical perspectives from a member of the ultra- Orthodox community.  Perhaps those who are not so fortunate to be part of a supportive community, the government taking care of their needs is their best and only option.  But as frum Jews, we do best when left to our own devices.  Case in point: Hurricane Sandy.

The Achiezer organization in Far Rockaway arranged for evacuations, placements, generators, multiple locations for hot food all day, thousands of articles of clothing to be distributed, cleanup and water extractions, insurance assistance, gemach loans, etc.  No stone was left unturned, as every conceivable effort was made with the utmost haste to help out fellow Yidden.

The federal government’s response?  A presidential photo-op and the distributing of FEMA applications so that there will indeed be some monetary aid after a prolonged journey through an endless abyss of red tape.  This is the way the government operates – paper, less action, and inefficiency all around.  Not to mention that when someone contributes $1 to an organization such as Achiezer, 80%-95% gets used in direct aid.  The federal government is busy paying pensions and onerous healthcare plans to employees who have no oversight to their work performance.  Bikur Cholim, Tomchei Shabbos and other organizations have volunteers who truly care. No retirement package necessary.

Why am I comparing federal aid to frum tzedakah organizations?  Because voting for Obama on the basis of maintaining programs is advocating taxing the wealthier more and more.  Those “rich” people are the ones who contribute to our chadorim, Bais Yaakovs, yeshivos and chesed organizations so generously.  Perhaps there are miserly people who sit on mounds of money all day and look down and scoff at the poor and downtrodden.  People in our community are the polar opposite, and for people to vote for Obama based on his ability to give out “tzedakah” smacks of a sophomoric and small minded view of how the government magically gives out HUD, welfare, Medicaid, etc.

Hashkafically, I think the issue is much more serious.  Obama supports both toieva marriage and abortions, both of which are non negotiable issues for frum Jews.  Is there a rov or rosh yeshiva in this country (who identifies themselves as ultra-Orthodox) who would endorse such a self-centered and anti-Torah vote as “I want to keep my benefits”?  Of course not.  Those who made that calculation in their voting simply didn’t ask.

Thomas Jefferson once said that the country would go downhill as soon as the people realize that they can vote themselves money.  How shameful that you sold out your religious beliefs for some WIC or HUD.  Next time, vote with your mind, not with your wallet.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I agree with this writer 1000%. Forget about whether someone should learn and live off programs. Let’s assume working people who unfortunately can’t earn enough voted for Obama as described above. It STILL doesn’t make any sense. And if the idea of taking tzedakah from Tomchei Shabbos doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe taking from the Federal government shouldn’t either. It’s also other people’s money!
    Margaret Thatcher once said: The problem with Communism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

  2. You write this letter too late. He is sitting on the throne. How he got in?? Our Hainmisher voted for Santa Clause. The food stamps and the programs. The section 8, the Wic, the Pic, and and Shmik.So–Merry Kratzmach everybody and a happy 4 more new years.

  3. Did you forger that Hashem runs the world? Hashem chose the leader. We don’t know that Romney would have been better, we just assume so. Hashem chose what is best for us.

    A Republican and A Romney voter

  4. You are indulging in wishful thinking. There is not enough money floating around in the frum community available for tzedakah to cover all the expenses of people who lost homes and business in Sandy. There are also the issues posed by family dependence on government programs such as food stamps, Medicaid for children, Section 8, energy assistance and so forth. We are already seeing a crunch with kollel families as parents who lost money in the 2008 crash and the downturn are no longer able to provide the previous level of support to their children’s families. We won’t even begin to talk about the tuition crisis.

    Money has to come from someplace. This is no longer 1985, and the Reichman brothers and their fellow parnasim are no longer able to bail us out whenever the need arises.

    Again, there are not enough “rich people” in our community to meet the needs of the klal, particularly of those who are klei kodesh or learning in kollel. Why are the yeshivos in financial trouble if those imaginary “rich people” able to make us independent?

  5. How arrogant is this wretched article above. I believe a jew can vote for either a Republican or a Democrat today and either way you are supported by your right under jewish law to convene in the American political place.

  6. wow this piece could not possiblt me more wrong. true we band together when theres a catastrophe and that is absolutely mazing. however kollels, yeshivas and kollel yungeleit are struggling, in spite of those with funds in our community many are simply bursting at the seams and this is with govt beneifts on top of tzedaka. This piece is simply wrong.
    as far as should we shut down yeshivas so as not to support a candidate with whom we dont agree with haskaficly is a sepperate issue, and one that can be debated. However saying that On our own we can support kollelim yeshivos and yungerleit without govt assistance as you are saying we can like after hurrrican Sandy is simply wrong.

    (As for the “hashkafic differences” On abortion th e Torah view is more in line with teh democrat view than the Republican one. We do not view abortion as “non negotiable” when a shaila arises a woman must consult a very very very experiecned and qualified rov and act accordingly chas veshalom a Jewish woman should ever be denied a mutar abortion due to catholic views of when life begins. As for toeiva, there is one thing assur and neither republicans nor Democrats want to make it illegal, so we dont have a dog in that fight. again though this is beside the point.)

  7. It pained me and disturbed greatly to read that sectors of our community voted for the Soneh Yisrael Obama just to make sure that they can continue to receive all the various programs. B”H the programs are available for those who truly need them, and will always be available for that sector – but many on the dole in our “Yeshivish” community avail themselves of these programs and then can afford to buy the best of everything. My husband and I both work and struggle just to make ends meet – the last time I bought a “good” sheitel was about 10 years ago, since an item like that a luxury, tends to go to the bottom of the list when one struggles. How many receiving aid can say that they go that long without items that are wanted/needed. It really is selfish to think of only oneself and not realize how they stupid decision will impact so many others. Not too many of us can continue to keep on paying for those who really may not need all that assistance, no matter what walk of like you are from.

  8. I agree that the welfare president is not in our best interests, but I’m not sure that the “yeshivish oilam” voted for him. Largely, the frum voted against Obama and for Romney. Yes, I do unfortunately need to rely on government funding and I still voted for Romney

  9. All those who disagree with this article are totally wrong.
    A) Romney never said he will completely do away with all these programs.
    B) The highest level of tzedakah is helping one support themselves. Republicans believe the people should support themselves. They put in policies that cause job growth. While obama and the democrats are know to kill job growth with their policies.
    C) A president is more than foodstamps, medicaid, hud, etc.
    D) If you bring up the Yeshiva issue, you got it all wrong. The FACT is, republicans are PRO school choice, which will guarantee a TRUE solution to the tuition crises. While the democrats are dead against it. So if you are so worried about yeshivas vote republican.
    E) Yes maybe it’s worth giving up govt programs to preserve the sanctity of the country. Throughout our history we see our rabbonim telling us to give up money in such cases. I have no doubt in my mind that if the Divrei Yoel was around today he would fight to preserve the kedusha in the world – even if it means giving up govt money.
    The list can go on and on. There is no question that the republican view is more in line with frum Jews and the democrat view is not even close.

  10. #4 You are correct that the wealthy Jews in our community do not have enough money to support us all, but neither does the government!! Look what is going on in Greece. It has to end, and when the money does run out, you are left with a population of people who do not know what it means to take pride in hard work, fending for themselves, and manage on their own. Too much government programs changes the culture and the mentality of the people. I am not talking about the Jews, who are mostly self motivated and have religion to guide their lives. I am talking millions of people living with us in America, which used to be a country that prided itself in its work ethic. We are seeing a change in the mentality and beliefs of the people of this country, and that is dangerous to us. When the people become lazy, unmotivated, selfish and helpless, our country becomes a more dangerous place for us to live. Look at the rioting and unrest in Europe. That is the result of too much relying on Government programs. Less government has always created happiness and prosperity for all. Too much government historically ended up creating misery for the citizens. Voting Democrat i.e. more government is very short sighted!!

  11. Not one comment above mentions that this president has also put all of us Yidden in eretz Yisrael in mortal danger by allowing a new Hitler in Iran to develop nuclear weapons in order to wipe Yisrael off the map including all our Gedolim here.You are worse than Esau, for he only wanted food but did not endanger anyone else by what he did. No wonder you are getting bad weather. If you want excellent health care, if you want a good free Torah education for your kids then you could make aliya, and help us to make eretz Yisrael more kodesh. You cannot excuse yourselves in the eyes of HaShem. Shame on you!

  12. As another commenatator noted, Obama’s poor relationship with Israel should weigh heavy. How do those argueing about rich people not having enough $ to support all our institutions (and hey would be more able to with lower ttax rates, and create more jobs so less reliance on Tzedakah in the 1st place!) justify voting for Obama as far as Israel is concerned?!